I’ve been reviewing our film collection on video acquired maybe fifteen years ago and deciding which ones to buy on DVD, which to ditch. The criterion is—would I want to see this film this weekend? Five years from now? When I’m ninety?

Some films stand the test of time for me, others get even better. Still others are been-there-done-that, seem boring in retrospect, or have become somewhat distasteful.

We’ve got two Stanley Kubrick films in the video collection. The first, “Dr. Strangelove,” released in 1964, is a hilarious dark comedy about an unhilarious topic—nuclear world war. Peter Sellers is at the height of his comedic powers in three pitch-perfect roles—the nervous British officer taken hostage by a psychotic American general, the President of the United States negotiating by phone with the Soviet Premier, and Dr. Strangelove, a former Nazi war strategist now advising the U.S. The scene of Strangelove wrestling with his own arm, which insists on thrusting up in a Nazi salute, then tries to strangle him, is worth the price of admission alone.

There are plenty of pokes at the military and sexism. Early on, after an explanation of Strategic Air Command, we cut to the cockpit of a U.S. jet carrying nuclear bombs. The cockpit shakes a bit as we view the pilot in full gear, gazing sternly, steadfastly down. Then the camera pans down a hair, and we see that the pilot is staring at a Playboy Magazine. In a later scene aboard the jet, Slim Pickens itemizes the contents of a survival kit provided for each crew member in the event they crash-land in enemy territory. “One pair of nylon stockings, one lipstick, one pack of cigarettes, one hundred dollars in ten-dollar bills, one pack of condoms. Shoot, a feller could have himself a good time in Vegas with this stuff.”

It’s funny. The send-ups of sexism don’t offend me fifteen years later, they’re spot on.

Then I got to the second Kubrick. I personally know people on Facebook who list this film as their Favorite. I became involved in a lively discussion on a LinkedIn scriptwriters’ group about the three-act structure. Is it required? Is it overly restrictive? One writer claimed that this Kubrick film is, in his opinion, the greatest film ever made, and it has a five-act structure, so there.

The film is “A Clockwork Orange,” released in 1971. I said to husband Tom, “We haven’t seen that in a while, let’s watch it.”

I got maybe fifteen minutes in, up to the gang rape scene, when I said to Tom, “Stop it. Eject it. Ditch it.”

My sense of revulsion was visceral. Yes, it’s supposed to be dark comedy again. But for me, there is nothing even remotely funny about gang rape. I don’t really care what else happens. It’s history in my library. I don’t know why I thought enough of this film to buy it in the first place. Shame, shame on my younger self.

So there you have it. Do you have a film or book you used to love that you now hate?

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